.Video mere propaganda –Army
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has appeared in a new video to debunk Nigeria’s government claims that the group has been crushed and flushed out of its Sambisa Forest stronghold.“We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere. And tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location except if Allah wills by his decree,” Shekau said in the 25-minute video, flanked by armed fighters.
“You should not be telling lies to the people,” he said, referring to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari who said on Christmas Eve that the extremist group had been defeated and driven away from the forest, its last known bastion.
“If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?” he asked.
It was not immediately clear where the new video was shot, but Shekau who spoke in both Hausa and Arabic said it was filmed on Christmas Day.
Shekau last appeared in a video in September where he disputed a claim by the Nigerian military that he had been wounded in battle.
He vowed to continue fighting on until an Islamic state was imposed in northern Nigeria.
“Our aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and we have our own Caliphate, we are not part of Nigeria.”
Buhari had announced that a months-long military campaign in the 1,300 square-kilometre (500 square-mile) forest in northeastern Borno state had led to the “final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest”.
The government in Abuja and the military have frequently claimed victories against the Islamic State group affiliate but access to the epicentre of the conflict is strictly controlled.
That has made independent verification of official statements about victories virtually impossible.
Attacks have meanwhile continued, making claims of defeating Boko Haram questionable despite undoubted progress in pushing back the group.
The Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed at least 20,000 and forced some 2.6 million others to flee their homes since 2009.
The violence has sparked a dire humanitarian crisis in the region, with thousands of children facing the risk of famine and starvation.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has described as mere propaganda the purported fresh Boko Haram video.
This was contained in a sstatement signed by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman, on Thursday.
The statement entitled: “Purported Boko Haram Video Mere Propaganda”, read: “The attention of the Nigerian Army is drawn to a video clip released by Boko Haram Terrorist group from an undisclosed location a while ago, showing its purported leader, making spurious claims.
“While effort is on going to subject the video for further forensic analysis, the Nigerian Army wishes to reiterate that it has captured and occupied the last known stronghold of the terrorists group in the Sambisa forest.
“We would like to reassure the public that this video is nothing but mere terrorists propaganda aimed at creating fear in the mind of people and to remain relevant.
“Therefore, there is no cause for alarm, more so as concerted effort in clearing the vestiges of Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding is still ongoing.
“Our gallant troops deployed in various parts of the north east have continued to intensify search for all persons associated with Boko Haram terrorist group with a view to bring them to justice.
“Consequently, the public are hereby enjoined to go about their normal lawful business, remain vigilant and security conscious. They should also report any suspicious person or group of persons to security agencies”.
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